SAN ANTONIO – As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Bexar County, those that are high risk with obesity, diabetes and transplants are having to adjust to new ways of life.
Patients with kidney transplants in Bexar County are some of the people most at risk since it is a hot spot for the disease.
When comes to contracting COVID-19, transplant patients have to be careful because they are taking medication that suppresses their immune system.
Dr. Adam Bingaman, Director of the Abdominal Transplant Program at Methodist Specialty and Transplant Hospital, said patients need to take medications to protect their bodies from rejecting a transplant. However, those same medicines keep their immune systems more susceptible to different types of infections, including COVID-19.
Bingaman said it is critical that transplant patients and their caregivers stay home. This has made checkups on their health very difficult.
It’s why he said his office has adopted regular tele-health checkups. Patients need to be rigorously monitored to detect organ rejection, which makes trips to the lab difficult. It’s also why his office has been using a program called RemoTraC.
The program allows for at-home blood draws.
“We need to monitor their labs,” Bingaman said. “We had to also utilize services like RemoTraC with Care DX where the patients have someone come into their home and have their blood drawn. This is critical because otherwise folks are leaving the home getting their blood drawn at a lab drawing facility outside their home. That also exposes the caregiver that is driving them to the outside lab.”
Bingaman stresses it’s crucial for caregivers also not to expose themselves to the public. He says death rates with transplant patients are serious.
Places like Europe and New York are reporting the death rate for transplant patients who get COVID-19 to be anywhere from 30 to 35 percent, according to Bingaman.
However, he is hopeful that rate is going down, with Dallas recently reporting a 10 to 15 percent death rate with COVID-19 patients who have had transplants.